VDH Wishes You A Happy and Healthy Holiday

The Holidays are a time we reflect on what we’re thankful for. The holidays are a great time of year to share fantastic meals and to spend time with your family and loved ones. While you prepare for the arrival of your loved ones or are traveling, follow these health and safety ideas for a wonderful holiday.

Travel Tips

The holidays are one of the busiest travel times of the year. Follow these helpful tips:

Wash your hands often.

Keeping your hands clean is a quick and easy way to keep from getting sick.  Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (hum the happy birthday song). If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Manage Stress

  • Go on a walk when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Ask for help.

Food Safety

Follow these Food Safety Tips for a Happy Holiday Season.

Whether you are staying close to home this year or traveling to see loved ones we wish you a happy and healthy Holiday.

National Influenza Vaccination Week

Calendar Reminder To Get A Flu ShotNational Influenza Vaccination Week (December 4-10) is a great time to make sure that you have had your flu shot this year and encourage your friends and family to get theirs.

Be familiar with the symptoms of flu and the people most at risk from flu complications, including young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions. If you fall into one of those groups, make sure you get vaccinated promptly, and treated promptly if you do get the flu.

Getting a flu shot every year is the single best way to prevent the flu. It not only protects your health, it protects the health of those around you. Everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu shot.

Even if you got a flu shot last year, it’s still important to get one this year. The flu vaccine is updated every year to provide protection from the flu viruses that are likely to be circulating and causing disease. Also, your body’s level of immunity from a vaccine received last year will have declined.

You can find out where to get flu shot in your area by

There are also simple steps you can take to help prevent the spread of flu

  • Always cover your cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Wash your hands
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that get touched a lot, such as door handles, countertops, and faucets.
  • If you feel sick, stay home from work or school

Learn more about the Flu and how to care for you and your loved ones.CDC Blog-A-Thon

World AIDS Day 2016

red ribbon on granite, black and white, World AIDS DayDecember 1 marks World AIDS Day.  In Virginia, 24,853 people are living with HIV disease, 47% of whom have progressed to an AIDS-defining condition.  This year’s theme is: “Leadership. Commitment. Impact.”   We are now better equipped than ever to fight HIV and VDH leadership is committed to impacting the HIV epidemic in our state.  Our mission is to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation and to do that we must prevent new HIV infections and help those living with HIV get in care, stay in care, and live well.

The Virginia Department of Health recently released its Virginia Integrated HIV Services Plan, showcasing the goals, objectives, and activities to help stop the spread of HIV in our state and improve the health of all Virginians living with HIV.  One component of the plan includes the promotion of HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, (PrEP), a pill taken daily to prevent HIV.  Another piece of the plan includes linking newly diagnosed HIV-positive individuals into medical care sooner and keeping them in medical care—this will include promoting and assisting clients with enrollment into a health insurance plan and the development of new services to help people take their medication regularly.  We will evaluate success of implementation of the Virginia Integrated HIV Services Plan on measures of the HIV Care Continuum.  Achievement of viral suppression, or having a low viral load in the body, is the optimal health outcome for those living with HIV.  In 2015, 42% of people living with HIV were virally suppressed, but through continued HIV prevention and treatment programs, collaboration, and connection with our communities, we can reach our goal of 80% by the year 2020.

We can all be leaders and make a commitment to stop HIV, not only this World AIDS Day, but every day.  Get educated about HIV.  Get tested for HIV.  If you are HIV-positive, get in care and stay in care—talk to your doctor about how you can live a healthy and longer life.  Find an event near you for World AIDS Day and remember those that we have lost in the fight against HIV and AIDS.  Pledge to stand with us and help make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation!

Fight The Flu!


As flu season kicks into high gear, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family and help prevent the spread of flu in your community. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot every year. Everyone age six months and older should get a flu shot. The flu mist is not recommended this year.

You can find out where to get a flu shot in your area by


It’s important to remember: the flu shot cannot give you the flu. The most common side effect of the flu shot is soreness at the spot where the shot was given.

The flu virus spreads easily by coughing, sneezing or talking. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. Symptoms of flu may include fever (though not everyone with flu will have a fever), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, fatigue (tiredness), chills, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear one to three days after exposure.  If you do get sick, stay home from work or school so you don’t make others sick!

VDH monitors the level of activity of influenza-like illness (ILI) each week from October through May, and publishes a weekly influenza report.

Did you know you can help fight the flu in under one minute per week? By submitting a weekly health report to Flu Near You, you can help track the flu in your community. It’s simple and anonymous.


Learn more about the Flu and how to care for you and your loved ones.

10 Ways to Stay Safe This Halloween

Happy Halloween lettering. Holiday calligraphy with spider.Make sure Halloween is one of the safest nights of the year by following these safety tips:

  1. Wear reflective clothing or reflective tape, which can be easily added to costumes and bags for added visibility. Make sure cars are able to see you and your family when trick or treating.
  2. If you’re throwing a party, practice these food safety tips for partygoers and party throwers.
  3. Safe treats: Help your children identify treats that are safe to eat. Don’t let your children eat anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.  Inspect treats for signs of tampering such as discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers.  Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
  4. Carry and use a flashlight.
  5. Wear flame-resistant costumes.
  6. Only visit well-lit houses.
  7. Avoid using decorative contact lenses unless under the care of eye care professional. Obtaining contact lenses without a prescription or eye exam from an eye care professional can cause eye injuries including: abrasions, infections and blindness.
  8. Review with your children how to call 9-1-1 if they ever have an emergency or become lost.
  9. If you are using costume makeup for the first time, test it in a small area first to ensure it does not cause skin irritation.
  10. If you are giving out treats this Halloween consider Non-Food Treats for children with food allergies.

VDH hopes you and your family enjoy a safe and happy Halloween.

USDA Summer Champion Awards

Virginia’s First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine presented the USDA Summer Champion Awards to representatives from WIC vendors Food Lion, Fresh Market and Grant’s Market for their efforts in promoting the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In partnership with the Virginia No Kid Hungry Campaign, The Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Community nutrition helped spread the word that citizens can text the word “Food” to 877-877 in order to find the closest sites that offer a SFSP feeding location. These three vendors promoted the texting service by alerting their customers that they could text to find a meal site. This contributed to a significant increase in the texting service as compared to 2014, and an increase of over 170,000 meals served!

 Dr. Marissa Levine volunteers in the FeedMore Community Kitchen with VDH staff on the first day of National Public Health Week.

They’re helping prepare the more than 83,000 pounds of food delivered daily to our neighbors in need in the 29 counties and five cities in Central Virginia.